Letter: Coastside Farmers Market field notes
I don’t know about you, but my summer woolens have been getting quite the workout this season. I was astonished to wake up to rain this morning, as was my cat, who spent the night in my car, as it turns out. Seems I left the window open when I got home from the Pacifica Market last night, which turned out to be great for the cat, but not so great for the upholstery of my late uncle’s car. I found myself running out into the rain in the wee hours ( a scary phrase at my advancing age) to close the windows, and was leapt upon from the back seat by my bewildered cat-like creature whose temperament is rather like the weather lately - predictably unpredictable.
For dealing with cats and Coastside Summers there is only one remedy: Layers. When you live on the coast you must dress in layers. Did you know lasagne means layers? Well it does. And just so we are clear, I don’t recommend actually wearing outfits made from noodles and red sauce unless you are a swedish rocker or it’s Halloween. I did once win a prize for appearing at a masquerade ball dressed as an Italian Dinner (alongside the granddaughter of O’l Judge Bettencourt who was decked out as a pea pod) but that’s a story for another day. Meanwhile, it is in fact summer, and while I rarely, if ever, associate summer with lasagne of the classic sort, I stumbled upon a very tasty summery version out of sheer desperation last week.
Tomatoes are gorgeous and plentiful right now, as are a stunning variety of summer squashes, basil and spinach. And while I generally prefer to indulge in all those different shapes and colors of heirloom and dry-farmed tomatoes au naturel ( the tomatoes, I mean), every now and again, a warmed up version works pretty well, especially when peak temperature for your Sunday BBQ peaks at a balmy 62º with a chill factor. And suddenly a summer salad as side dish no longer feels like quite the right thing to serve your shivering guests. And yes, while these cool and moist summer days do unseen and under appreciated wonders for our complexions, the can wreak havoc on those of us prone to the sniffles, so it never hurts to up the lycopene, people, and tomatoes are loaded with it and the levels do not diminish regardless of whether or not the ‘maters are eaten warm or cold.
So imagine my delight when I discovered that when you are in possession of 4 giant tomatoes all of a different hue and stripe, a big bunch of spinach, a nice big onion, some fresh basil and a few sprigs of oregano, you can make a fresh tomato lasagne that is light, tasty, warm and hearty without being heavy or a heart-health hazard. Sautee a chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic over medium heat till the onions go clear, turn the heat off and add a few handfuls of fresh oregano leaves ( no stems, no seeds, Mr Flashback) and cover while you rinse the spinach. Then find a 8x8 pan somewhere, and put a nice layer of fresh spinach, toss a few spoonfuls of the scented onions over the spinach. Crack some pepper and add a little salt if you use it. Cover with a sheet of no-boil pasta. Slice a big red tomato, and cover the pasta sheet with the tomato, top the tomato with a few basil leaves, and toss 1/4 of the onions over the basil. Do the S&P thing, then cover with a another sheet of pasta. The repeat the whole thing, using a different color tomato on each layer. Make sure the that by the last layer you are back to bright red tomatoes, cover the last of the onions, then put a lid on it, Sally. Your lasagne is really pretty, really tasty, and while it’s very satisfying, it is not at all heavy. It’s pretty, colorful and looks great on you. Kinda like that favorite summer sheath that won’t see the light of day until October, but by then, wont you look great in it!
Adriana of Tomatero grows some kinda tremendous ‘maters as does Maria Reyes de Luz ( nice handle, no?) from La Milpa. Do you know, by the way, how many women-owned farms are part of your Markets? 4. You get to figure out the other two.
This week: Frank Ellis performs in Half Moon Bay on Saturday and Dave Crimmen will wow-em in Pacifica on Wednesday, thanks to the support of the Friends of the Farmer’s Market. Assemblyman Jerry Hill will be fielding questions in Pacifica on Wednesday August 12th from 5 to closing time. - And remember a few weeks back when i screwed up and had the wrong date for you to clean out your medicine chests ad properly dispose of your expired prescriptions? That’s happening in Half Moon Bay on Saturday August 15th. There - some advance notice this time!
Thanks a Bushel and a Bunch!
Coastside Farmers Markets
May to December
In Half Moon Bay @ Shoreline Station
Saturdays, 9 am to 1 pm •
In Pacifica @ Rockaway Beach
Wednesdays, 2:30 -6:30pm